I saw a bunch of Facebook postings saying that today was opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals. That got me digging in the back of my sock drawer for a souvenir bat and pennant Dad gave me when we went to a ball game.
I didn’t even notice that he had put my name on it in his distinctive handwriting until the scan was compete. It was just luck that the name side was down.
1949 Cardinals souvenir program
This program was stuck inside the scrapbook my folks made of my early years. It’s possible that the bat dates back to this game, but I don’t know that for sure.
Cardinal Program Chicago lineup
Not being an avid baseball fan, particularly when I was two years old, I don’t recognize the Chicago players. Click on the image to make it larger. I scanned it at a little higher resolution than usual so you can read all the type.
St. Louis Cardinals lineup
HERE are names I grew up hearing. I shot a picture of Red Schoendiest at the Spring Training Opener this year. How could any kid in SE Missouri NOT know Stan the Man?
You have to snack at a ball game
It doesn’t say how much these snacks cost in 1949, but two hot dogs and two bottles of water set me back 20 bucks at the spring training opener.
Birthday bat, ball and cap
I’m guessing this is my sixth or 7th birthday. I’m holding a bat, softball and wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap in front of my grandparents’ home in Advance. It’s obvious from my body language that these are alien tools.
Actually, I spent many hours playing pitch and catch with Dad in the backyard or just throwing the ball up in the air to play catch with myself. I never got good enough to be picked first, but, at least, I wasn’t always picked last when it was time to grab the end of the bat to chose up teams.
Dad impressed upon me that you always hold the bat with the label up to keep from cracking it. Unfortunately, one of my classmates either didn’t know or didn’t remember that when he grabbed my bat and stepped to the plate. I’ll never forget the sound of my birthday bat breaking. I was devastated.
Son Adam was the baseball player
Son Adam was the ballplayer of the family. When he was about 12, he was a catcher who could nail a runner at second from his knees. Everybody learned not to steal on him. The only problem was that he couldn’t hit. He could only bunt. But, boy, could he ever bunt. The other teams KNEW he was going to bunt, but he’d always lay one down in the hole.
He hates for me to tell this story, but what good are kids if you can’t embarrass them?
The pitchers must have left their arms at home one night, because they quickly gave up walk after walk and hit after hit. Coach cycled through every player on the team until he came to Adam. Now, you’d think that a catcher who can hit second dead on should be able to put a pitch across the plate, right?
“The NEXT one would have been a strike”
Wrong. Not only could he not hit the plate, he couldn’t hit the backstop. Finally, with his mother and me sinking lower and lower in the stands – “Gee, I wonder who that kid is who’s pitching?” – the coach finally walked out to the mound and demanded the ball.
Adam walked off the field, kicking dirt all the way to the dugout.
“What’s the matter, kid?” I asked. “You were stinking the place up. Why are you mad about being yanked?”
“The NEXT one would have been a strike,” he said.
And, that’s why he’s become a good businessman. When he doesn’t get the deal or something goes wrong, he always thinks, “The NEXT one is going to be a strike.”